Gateway to the Classics: Andersen's Fairy Tales by Alice Lucas
Andersen's Fairy Tales by  Alice Lucas

The Goloshes of Fortune

A grand party was assembled one evening in a big house in East Street, Copenhagen. It was one of those parties given no doubt in the expectation that invitations would be received in return. Half the company were already seated at the card tables, and the other half were waiting to see what would be the result of a remark of their hostess—"Now we must see what we can do to amuse ourselves."

They were at this point, and the conversation was getting on as well as it could. Among other subjects it fell upon the Middle Ages; some considered that period far superior to our own, nay, Mr Councillor Knap defended this view so vigorously, that he won over the hostess to his side, and both inveighed against Oersted's article in the Almanack on Ancient and Modern Times, in which the preference is given to our .own. The Councillor considered the times, of King Hans,' as the noblest and happiest.

During all this talk, which was only interrupted for a moment by the arrival of the newspaper in which there was nothing worth reading, we will retire into the ante-room which was given up to cloaks, sticks, umbrellas and goloshes.

Two maidens were sitting here, one young and one old; it might be supposed that they had come to accompany their mistresses home, some old maid or widow lady. If, however, one looked a little closer, one soon saw that they were not ordinary maids; their hands were too white, their bearing and their movements were too distinguished for that, and then the cut of their clothes was too elegant and uncommon.

They were in fact two fairies, the youngest, though not Dame Fortune herself, was the messenger of one of her maids-of-honour, used to carry about the smaller gifts of fortune. The elder one looked very serious; she was Sorrow, and she always goes about herself, to do her errands in person, for then she knows they are well done.

They were telling each other where they had been during the day; she who was the handmaid of Fortune had only been employed on some trifling matters, such as saving a new hat from a downpour of rain, and procuring a greeting for an honest man from a grand Nobody, and so on. What she still had left to do was quite out of the ordinary way.

"I must tell you," she said, "that to-day is my birthday, and in honour of it I have had intrusted to me a pair of goloshes which I am to convey to mankind. These goloshes have this property, that whoever puts them on will immediately find himself in whatever palace or period he would like; every wish with regard to time or place will be at once gratified, and the wearer will thus for once find perfect happiness in this world!"

"A likely story!" said Sorrow; he will be sorely unhappy, and will bless the moment when he can get rid of the goloshes!"

What nonsense you are talking," said the other; "I will place them here near the door, and someone will take them by mistake, and in putting them on will find happiness." Thus ended the conversation.


What Happened to the Councillor

It was late when Councillor Knap, lost in thought about the good old times of King Hans, wanted to go home, and Fate willed it so that instead of his own goloshes, he put on those of Fortune, and went out into East Street. But, by the magic power of the goloshes, in doing so he stepped straight back three hundred years into the reign of King Hans, and therefore his feet sank into the mud and slush of those times, the streets then not being paved.

"Oh! this is terrible!" he said; "what mud! and what has become of the footpath? And the lamps are extinguished!"

The moon had not yet risen and it was rather foggy, so that everything melted away into darkness. At the nearest street corner, however, hung a lantern in front of an image of the Madonna, but the light it gave was as good as none, he only saw it when he was close under it and his eyes fell on the figures of the Mother and Child.

"It is most likely a Museum of Art, and they have forgotten to take down the sign."

Two persons in the dress of the Middle Ages passed him.

"Who on earth are these? They must be coming from a Masquerade."

All at once he heard drums and fifes, and blazing torches shone around him; the Councilor stopped to look, while the extraordinary procession passed him. First came a whole troop of drummers, beating their drums very cleverly; they were followed by halberdiers with long bows and crossbows. The principal person in the procession wore a clerical dress. In astonishment the Councillor asked what was the meaning of all this, and who the man was?

"It is the Bishop of Zealand!" he was answered.

"Good gracious!" he explained, "whatever has the Bishop taken into his head?" Then he shook his head and murmured that it could not possibly be the Bishop. Musing over this and without looking either to the right or the left the Councillor walked on down East Street and over the High Bridge Place. He could not find the bridge to Palace Square at all, but only saw a shallow stream, and at last came upon two men with a boat.

"Does the gentleman want to be put over to Holm?" asked they.

"Over to Holm?" said the Councillor, who had no idea in what Age he was now living. "I want to go to Christian's Haven in Little Turf Street."

The men stared at him.

"Only tell me where to find the bridge," he said. "It's shameful that there are no lamps lighted, and then it's so muddy one might be walking in a swamp."

But the more be talked to the boatmen, the less they understood each other.

"I don't understand your jargon," he cried at last, and turned his back on them. The bridge, however, he could not  find, nor any railing. "What a scandalous condition the place is in," he said. Never certainly had he found his own Age so miserable as on this evening. "I think it will be better for me to take, a coach; but where are they?" There was not one to be seen. "I must go back to the King's New Market Place, where there is a stand, or I shall never get back to Christian's Haven."

So then he walked back to East Street, and had nearly traversed the length of it, when the moon burst through a cloud.

"Good gracious! Whatever is that erection?" he exclaimed, as he caught sight of the East Gate which in olden times used to stand at the end of East Street. At last he found a wicket gate, and passed through on to what is now the New Market Place. Nothing was to be seen but a great open meadow, a few solitary bushes stood here and there, and a wide stream flowed across it. On the opposite bank stood a few miserable wooden booths used by the Dutch watermen, whence it gained its name of the Dutch meadow.

"Either I see a Fata Morgana, as they call it, or else I am drunk!" the Councilor groaned. "What can it be? What is the matter with me?" He turned back again, firmly convinced that he must be ill. On entering the street again, he looked more closely at the houses, most of them were timbered and with thatched roofs.

"I am certainly quite out of sorts," he sighed, "and yet I only drank one glass of punch. But I can't stand even that I and it really is too bad to give us punch with hot salmon? I shall have to tell our hostess so! Shall I go straight back and tell them what a condition I am in? It would look so foolish, and I should hardly expect anyone to be up now!" He tried to find the house, but in vain.

"This is desperate! I don't know East Street again! Not a shop to be seen, only miserable, tumble down hovels such as one might find in Roeskilde or Ringsted. Oh! how ill I am, it's no good standing on ceremony. But where in the world is the agent's house? There is a house but it's not like itself I There are still some people up in it, I can hear them. Oh dear, I feel very queer!"

He found a half-open door through which the light streamed. It was a tavern of the olden times, and seemed to be a kind of beer-house. The room looked like one of the old-fashioned house places of Holstein with a clay floor. A number of good folks, consisting mostly of seamen, Copenhagen burghers, and a few scholars, sat in deep conversation over their mugs, and took very little notice of him as he stepped in.

"Pardon me!" said the Councillor to the landlady; "I do not feel very well, and I should be much obliged if you would send for a coach to take me home to Christian's Haven."

The woman stared at him and shook her head; then she spoke to him in German, from which the Councillor concluded that she did not understand Danish, and repeated his request in German. This, as well as his strange dress, convinced the woman that he was a foreigner. She soon understood that he felt ill, and brought him a mug of water which was certainly rather brackish, as it came from the well outside.

The Councillor rested his head on his hand, drew a deep breath, and pondered over all the wonders around him.

"Is that this evening's Day?"  he asked, for the sake of saying something, as he saw the woman folding a large sheet of paper.

She did not understand what he meant, but handed him the sheet. It was a woodcut 'representing a comet seen in the city of Cologne.

"That is very old," said the Councillor, becoming quite excited at discovering this ancient woodcut. "Wherever did you get this rare print? It is very interesting, although the whole affair is a fable. Comets are easily explained in these days; they are northern lights, and are no doubt caused by electricity."

Those who sat near him and heard what he said looked at him in astonishment, and one of them rose, took off his hat respectfully and said in a very serious manner, "You must be a very learned man, monsieur."

"Oh no!" replied the Councillor; "I can only discourse a little on topics which everyone should understand."

"Modestia  is a beautiful virtue," said the man; "otherwise I must say to your speech mihi secus videtur, yet in this case I willingly suspend my judicium."

"May I ask whom I have the pleasure of addressing?" said the Councillor.

"I am Baccalaureus Scripturæ Sacræ," said the man.

This answer was enough for the Councillor, for the title agreed with the dress. Some old village schoolmaster, he thought, an odd fellow, such as one still may find in Jutland.

"This is certainly not a locus docendi,"  began the man; "still I must beg you to continue the conversation. You must be deeply read in the ancient writings."

"Oh, pretty well," replied the Councillor. "I am very fond of reading useful old books and modern ones as well, with the exception of 'Everyday Stories,' of which we really have more than enough in real life!"

"Everyday Stories?" asked the Baccalaureus.

"Yes; I mean these new novels."

"Oh," replied the man with a smile, "and yet they are very witty. and are much read at Court. The King is especially fond of the Romance of Iwain and Jawain,' which describes King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. He has joked about it with the gentlemen of his Court."

"Well, I have certainly not read that; I suppose it is a new one which Heiberg has just published."

"No," answered the man; "it is not by Heiberg. Gottfred von Gehman brought it out."

"Oh, is he the publisher? That is a very old name! Why, he was the first printer we had in Denmark!"

"Yes; he is our first printer," said the man.

So far all had passed off very well. Now one of the burghers began to speak of a terrible pestilence which had been raging a year or two before, meaning the plague of 1484. The Councillor supposed that he alluded to the cholera, and they got on without finding out their mistake. The Freebooter's War of 1490 was still so near that it was the next topic. The English Freebooters had taken ships on the Rheden, said they. The Councillor, who was well up in the incident of 1801, was quite at one with them against the English. After that the conversation was not so pleasant, every moment one contradicted the other. The honest Baccalaureus was so ignorant that the simplest utterances of the Councillor sounded to him wildly fantastic. They looked at each other, and when they became quite incomprehensible to each other, Baccalaureus spoke Latin, in the hope of being better uuderstood, but it was all of no use.

"How are you now?" asked the landlady, pulling the Councillor by the sleeve. This brought him to himself, for while he had been talking he had entirely forgotten what had passed before.

"Where am I?" he said, his brain reeling as he tried to think.

"We will have claret, mead and Bremen beer," shouted one of the guests, and you shall drink with us!"

Two maids came in, one of them wore a parti-coloured hood. They filled the glasses and curtsied: a cold shiver ran down the Councillor's back.

"What is this? What does it mean?" said he, but he was obliged to drink with them. They quite overpowered

the good man; he was in despair, and when one of them said he was drunk he never doubted the man's words but begged them to fetch him a "droschky," and then they thought he was speaking the Muscovite tongue.

Never had he been in such low, coarse company; one might have thought the country had gone back to heathendom again. Said he to himself, "this is the most terrible moment of my life!" Just then it came into his head to stoop down under the table, creep to the door, and so try to get away, but just as he reached the door the others perceived his intention and seized him by the feet when, luckily for him, off came the goloshes and with them all the enchantment.

The Councillor now saw quite plainly a brightly burning lamp in front of him, and behind it a large house; every house round was familiar to him, he was in East Street just as we know it. He was lying with his feet against a gate, and the watchman sat opposite fast asleep.

"Good heavens! Have I lain here dreaming in the street!" he said. "Yes, to be sure this is East Street, as bright and well lighted as usual. It is terrible that one glass of punch should have had such an effect on me."

Two minutes later he was comfortably seated in a coach on his way to Christian's Haven. He thought of all the terror and anxiety he had undergone, and with a full heart he prized the happy reality of his own time, which, with all its shortcomings, was so much better than that of which he had lately made trial. Now this was very wise of the Councillor.


The Watchman's Adventure

"Why, here is a pair of goloshes!" said the watchman. "They must belong to the Lieutenant who lives up there, they are close to the door." The honest man would willingly have rung the bell and handed them in for there were still lights burning, but he was afraid of disturbing the other people in the house.

"It must be nice and warm to have those things on," he said, "the leather is so soft!" He slipped his feet into them. "How odd things are in this world! Now the Lieutenant might be in his comfortable bed, but see if he is! No I he is marching up and down the room. He's a happy man, he has neither wife nor bairns, he goes out to parties every night, shouldn't I like to be in his place, then I should be a happy man!"

As he uttered his wish the goloshes began to have their effect and the watchman became the Lieutenant in body and soul. There he stood upstairs in his room holding a little pink paper between his fingers upon which was written a poem he had just completed. Who at sometime in his life has not been impelled to write poetry? One writes poetry when one is in love, but a wise man does not print it. The words Lieutenant, Love and Lack of gold form a triplet, or better still, a half of Fortune's shattered die. The Lieutenant felt this also, and so, as he leant against the window, he said with a sigh:

"The poor watchman out in the street is far happier than I! He does not know privation as I do! He has a home, wife and children who weep with him in his sorrow and rejoice with his joy! Oh, I should be happier than I am if I could change places with him!"

At this moment the watchman again became a watchman because it was through the goloshes of Fortune that he had become a Lieutenant. As we see, he felt far less happy, and preferred to be what he really was, so the watchman was again a watchman.

"That was an ugly dream!" said he; "but curiously enough I thought I was the Lieutenant up there, and there was no pleasure in it. I missed my old woman and the little ones; they're always ready to smother me with kisses."

Then he sat nodding again, he could not get the dream quite out of his head, for he still had the goloshes on. A shooting star darted across the sky.

"There it goes!" he said; "there are plenty of them. I should like well enough to see those affairs a bit nearer, especially the moon; it wouldn't slip through my fingers. The student for whom my wife washes says that when we die we fly from one to the other of them. It's a lie, of course, but it wouldn't be bad. If I could have a little trip up there, I'd willingly leave my body behind." Now there are certain things in the world we should beware of expressing, especially if we have Fortune's goloshes on our feet. Just listen to the watchman's adventure.

Few amongst us are not acquainted with the rapidity of steam-travelling either on land by railway, or at sea by boat, but these flights are only like the wanderings of the sloth, or the march of the snail, compared with the velocity of light. Light travels nineteen million times faster than the best racehorse, but it is again outstripped by electricity. Death is an electric shock which touches the heart; the soul when freed is borne on the wings of electricity. The sunlight takes eight minutes and some seconds to perform a journey of over twenty millions of miles, but the soul performs the same distance in an infinitely shorter space of time. The space between the heavenly bodies is, for it, not greater than would be to. us the distance between our friends' houses in a town, even if these were rather close together. In the meantime this electric shock entirely deprives us of the use of our bodies, unless like the watchman we are wearing the goloshes of Fortune. In a few seconds the watchman had traversed the 52,000 miles to the moon, which is, as we know, made of a much softer material than our earth; it is more like new fallen snow. He found himself on one of the numerous mountains which we all know from Dr Midler's large map of the moon. The interior of the mountain was like a large cauldron, a whole Danish mile in depth. At the bottom of this cauldron lay a town, of whose appearance an idea may be formed by putting the white of an egg into a glass of water, the substance of which it was made being quite as soft, while similar towers with cupolas and hanging balconies, all perfectly transparent, hovered in the thin clear air. Our earth floated above his head like a great blood-red ball.

Crowds of beings, all no doubt what we should call persons, moved about; but their appearance was very different from ours. They also had a language which nobody could expect the soul of the watchman to understand, this however it did. The soul of the watchman understood the language of the moon-dwellers perfectly well. They were disputing about our earth, and doubting whether it could be inhabited; the air, they thought, must be too thick for any sensible moon-being to live in it. Most of them were of opinion that the moon alone was inhabited, it was the original globe in which the old-world people lived.

Now we must return to East Street to see what has become of the watchman's body.

Lifeless on the steps it lay; the Morning Star had fallen out of its hand, and the eyes looked up towards the moon, where its honest companion the soul was wandering.

"What o'clock is it, watchman?" asked a passer by. But the watchman did not answer, so the enquirer gently tapped him on the nose and away went his balance, the body fell down full length, for the watchman was dead you know. A great fright had come over the man who had pushed him, the watchman was dead, and dead he remained. The death was notified, and at dawn the body was taken to the hospital.

It might be a rare joke for the soul when it came back, if, as in all probability, it went to East Street to look for the body, and failed to find it there. Probably it would first go to the police station, then to the lost property office to advertise for it among other things lost or stolen; and last of all it might go to the hospital. However, it may console us to know that the soul is wisest when left to itself; it is the body which makes it stupid.

As we said before, the watchman's body went to the hospital, where it was first taken into the bathroom and the goloshes were, of course, taken off. Then the soul had to come back again, it immediately took possession of the and the man came to life at once. He declared that been the most terrible night of his life, and not for a shilling would he go through it again. However, all was over now. He was discharged the same day, but the goloshes were left at the hospital.


A Critical Moment—An Evening's Dramatic Reading—A Most Unusual Journey

EYeryone in Copenhagen knows what the Frederik's Hospital looks like, but, as probably some strangers may read this tale, we must give a short description of it.

The hospital is separated from the street by a rather high railing of which the thick iron bars are just so far apart that a thin student—so the story goes—could squeeze through them, and so pay little visits to the outside world. The part of the body most difficult to squeeze through was the head ; in this case as so often in the world, a small head was the most convenient. This will be a sufficient introduction.

One of the young medical students, of whom only in a physical sense could it be said that he was thick-headed, happened to be on duty that night; it was pouring with rain. Notwithstanding these two hindrances he pined to get out, if only for a quarter of an hour. It was not worth while, he though; confiding in the porter, if he could slip out through the railings. There lay the goloshes the watchman had forgotten; little did he think that they were Fortune's, but they might be useful in such weather; so he slipped them on. Now came the question whether he could slip through the railings; he had never tried it before. There he stood.

"How I wish I had my head through," he said, and immediately, although it was far to big, it slipped through quite easily. The goloshes understood all about it. Now to get the body through. "Ugh! I am too stout," said he. "I thought the head was the greatest difficulty. I shall never get through."

Then he tried to draw his head back quickly, but it wouldn't come. He could move his neck about, but that was all he could do. He first felt very angry, and then his spirits sank below zero. The goloshes of Fortune had brought him into a terrible position, and unfortunately it never occurred to him to wish himself free again. Instead of wishing, he struggled to free himself, but in vain. The rain poured down, not a creature was to be seen in the street. He could not reach the bell by the gate; how was he to get away. He foresaw that he might have to stand there till morning, then a smith would have to be fetched to file the bars, and it would be a very slow business. All the blue coat boys from the school opposite would be on the move, the people from Nyboder would appear on the scene for the fun of seeing him in the pillory. There would be a much bigger crowd than there was at the meeting for the wrestling championship last year. "Ugh!" he cried, "the blood is rushing to my head; I shall go mad. Oh! if I were only free again I should be all right."

Now he should have said this before, no sooner was the wish expressed than it was fulfilled, his head was free. He rushed into the hospital quite distracted by the terror which the goloshes of Fortune had caused him.

We must not suppose that his adventures were over. No indeed the worst is to come.

The night passed and the following day, but no one for the goloshes.

In the evening there was to be a performance in the small theatre in Kannicke Street. The house was crammed and between the acts a new poem was to be recited. It was called "My Aunt's Spectacles." It was the story of a pair of spectacles which enabled the wearer to look into futurity. The poem was excellently recited, and it was received with much applause. Among the audience was the medical student who seemed entirely to have forgotten his adventure of the previous evening. Again he was wearing the goloshes, as no one had claimed them, and the streets being very muddy, they would do him good service, he thought.

He was much taken with the poem, and the idea of it haunted him. He would like such a pair of spectacles well enough himself. Perhaps, if they were rightly used, one might be able to look straight into people's hearts, and this would be much more interesting, he thought, than to know what would happen next year. Future events must, in due course, be revealed, whereas the secrets of the heart would never be divulged.

"I can picture to myself the whole row of ladies and gentlemen on the front bench, if one could only look straight into their hearts—what a revelation there would be! A sort of shop would open before me and how I should use my eyes! In the heart of that lady opposite, for instance, I should expect a whole millinery establishment! The next one would be quite empty, but it would be none the worse for a thorough cleaning. There would also be shops of a more substantial nature! Ah, yes!" he sighed, "I know one in which everything is substantial and good, but unfortunately there is already a shopman in it, more is the pity! From many I should hear the words, 'Be so good as to walk inside.' Ah! if only he could walk in, as a nice little thought passes through the heart!"

This was quite enough for the goloshes, the student shrank up into nothing, and began a journey of a most unusual kind, right through the hearts of the people in the front row. The first heart he entered was that of a lady, but at first he imagined himself to be in an Orthopædic Hospital, where people go to have their limbs straightened and to be cured ole of their deformities. He was in a room hung round with plaster casts of misshapen limbs; but the difference here was, that whereas in the hospital, the casts were taken when cra the patients were admitted; these, in the heart were taken, and preserved after the originals had left. They were in fact the casts of the bodily and mental deformities of her friends, thus carefully preserved.

Quickly he passed on into the heart of another woman;

Now he crept on hands and knees through an overcrowded butcher's shop. Flesh, flesh, and nothing but flesh; it was the heart of a rich respectable man, whose name no doubt will be found in the directory.

He next entered the heart of the man's wife. It was an old deserted dove-cot; the husband's portrait was used as a weathercock, which was connected with the doors, so that these opened and shut as the man turned about.

Thence he passed into a cabinet of mirrors such as we have in the Castle of Rosenborg, only these had the power of magnifying to an extraordinary extent. In the middle of the room, on the floor, like the grand Llama of Thibet, sat the insignificant "Ego "of the person, astonished with the contemplation of his own greatness. After this he found himself in a narrow needlecase, full of sharp needles. "This must surely be the heart of some old maid!" he thought, but this was not the case, it was the heart of quite a young officer with many medals and orders, and who was considered a man of spirit and refinement.

The wretched student passed out of the last heart in a state of great bewilderment, he could not collect his thoughts at all, but fancied that his vivid imagination had run away with him.

"Good heavens!" he sighed, "I must be on the high road to madness I It is so desperately hot here, it makes the blood rush to my head!" All at once he remembered the terrible events of the night before, how his head had been stuck between the bars of the railing at the hospital. "I must have brought it on there," he said. "There's nothing like taking things in time. A turkish bath would be the best thing. I wish I were on the upper shelf there!"

Accordingly he found himself on the upper shelf in the "Sudarium," but he lay there in all his clothes, boots and goloshes; the .drops of hot water trickled on to his face from the ceiling.

"Hallo!" he shouted, and rushed down to get a shower-bath. The attendant also shouted when he saw a man with all his clothes on in the shower-bath.

The student collected himself sufficiently to whisper, "it's a wager!" The first thing he did when he got home, was to put a blister on to his neck and his back, to draw out the madness.

The next morning his back was raw, and that was all he gained by the goloshes.


The Metamorphosis of the Copying Clerk

In the meantime the watchman, whom we have not forgotten, remembered the goloshes he had found, which had gone to the hospital with him. He fetched them away, but as neither the Lieutenant nor anyone else in the street would own them, they were left at the police station.

"They're exactly like my own goloshes," said one of the clerks, as he examined the castaways and measured them with his own. "You would have to have a keener eye than a shoemaker to see any difference between them!"

"Mr Clerk!" said an attendant who came in with some papers.

The clerk returned to speak to the man, and when he was gone and he returned to his examination of the goloshes, he could no longer remember whether the right hand pair or the left hand pair were his. "Those which are wet must be mine!" he thought, but in this he made a mistake for they were Fortune's. Surely the police may make mistakes sometimes, as well as other people!

So he put them on, stuffed some papers into his pockets and took some others under his arm, for they were to be read and revised at home. It happened to be Sunday morning and a very fine day, so he thought a walk in Frederiksborg garden would do him good, and out he went.

No one could be a quieter or more industrious person than this young man and right glad are we that he should have this little walk, it could only do him good after so much sitting.

At first he walked along not thinking of anything in par. ticular, so the goloshes had no opportunity of exercising their magic power. He met a friend in the Avenue, a young poet, who told him that his summer holiday was to begin on the following day.

"Hallo! are you off again?" said the clerk. "You are a lucky fellow. You can fly off whenever you like, we others are tied by the leg!"

"Ah! but one end of the chain is attached to the bread fruit tree, you must remember," answered the poet. "You have no cares about your daily bread, and then you have a pension."

"Still you are far better off!" said the clerk; "you can sit writing poetry, what a pleasure that is. Everybody says pleasant things to you, and you are your own master. I should like you to sit writing about all these trivial affairs in an office!"

The poet shook his head, the clerk shook his too, and neither of them changed their opinions in the least. They then took leave of each other.

"They're queer cattle these poets," said the clerk. "I should like to understand them and their ways, and to become a poet myself; I'm certain I shouldn't write such lackadaisical rhymes as other people. What a lovely spring day this is, a perfect poet's day! the air is so clear, and the clouds are so beautiful, and there is such a delicious scent from the flowers and shrubs. I have not felt as I do to-day for years!"

We already perceive that he has become a poet, though there was no great outward change in him, for it is a foolish idea that poets look different from other people. There may be many far more poetical natures among persons who are not known as poets, than in those of the acknowledged poets. The only difference is that the poet has a better memory, he can hold fast to a feeling or an idea till it comes forth clearly embodied in beautiful words, and this the others cannot do. But to pass from a commonplace person into one of originality must always be a great change, and this is what had now befallen the clerk.

"What fragrant air!" he said; "it reminds me of Aunt Magdalene's violets; ah! that was when I was a little boy! What an age it is since I thought about her, my good old aunt. She used to live there, behind the Exchange. She always had a few buds, or green shoots in water, however severe the winter might be. I used to smell the violets while I put the heated pennies on the frozen window panes to make peep holes. What a view that was; there were the ships frozen up in the canal deserted by the sailors, one cawing crow being the whole crew in charge. As soon as thie fresh spring breezes returned, everything received new line. Amid songs and merriment the ice was sawn up, the ships were tarred and rigged, and then off they went to foreign parts. I have remained here, and always must remain, sitting at the office seeing other people taking their passports for foreign countries. Such is my lot!" he said, sighing deeply; but suddenly he stopped. "Good Heavens! what is the matter with me? I have never felt like this before! It must be the effect of the spring air, it gives me almost as much pain as pleasure!" He felt in his pockets for the papers. "These will give me something else to think about," he said, running his eyes over the first page. " 'Dame Sigbrith,' an original tragedy in five acts," he read. "Why, what is this, yet it is in my own handwriting. Did I write this tragedy? 'The Intrigue on the Ramparts,' a comedy—where on earth did this come from, someone must have put it into my pocket; here is a letter too!" It was from the manager of a theatre, the pieces were rejected, and the letter was anything but civil. "Hum! hum!" said the clerk, sitting down on a bench; his ideas were so fresh and his heart so softened. Mechanically he plucked a flower growing near; it was a simple little daisy, yet what botanists can only explain to us in several lectures, this little flower teaches us at once. She related the myth of her birth, she told him about the power of the sun, which unfolded her tender leaves, and drew forth her fragrance; this made him reflect on the battle of Life, which in like manner rouses the slumbering feelings in our breasts. Light and air both woo the flower, but Light is the favoured lover, and to him she turns continually; when Light disappears she shuts up her petals and sleeps in the safe guardianship of Air. "It is Light which makes me so beautiful," said the flower. "But it is air which gives light!" whispered the poet's voice.

Close by stood a boy stirring up the mud in a ditch with a stick; the water splashed up into the green branches above. The clerk thought of the millions of invisible insects hur led up in the drops of water, and to whom such an evolution must have been as terrible as it would be for us to be whirlted above the clouds. As these thoughts came into his heipd, and all the changes which had taken place in him, he smiled. "I must be fast asleep and dreaming! But how wonderful it is! how naturally one dreams, knowing all the time that it is but a dream. If only I could remember when I wake all that I have been dreaming. I seem to be wonderful clear headed just now; I see everything plainly, but I am sure in the morning, if I have any recollection of my dreams at all, they will be nothing but nonsense. I have tried before. All the clever and brilliant things one says and hears in dreams are like the gold of the underground gnomes; rich and bright when it is given you, but see it by daylight, and you have nothing but stones and dead leaves. Alas!" he said, sighing sadly, as he looked at the little birds singing gaily and hopping from branch to branch. "They are much better off than I am. Flying is a delightful accomplishment if you are born to it! If I were to change into anything else it should be into a little lark like that!"

At once the sleeves and tails of his coat stuck together and became wings, his clothes changed to feathers, and his goloshes to claws. He perceived the change at once, and laughed inwardly. "Now I am sure I am dreaming," he said; "but such a stupid dream as this I have never had before." He flew up among the branches with a song, but there was no poetry in it, for his poet's nature was gone. The goloshes, like everyone who does anything thoroughly, could only do one thing at a time. The clerk wished to be a poet, and he became one; now he wanted to be a little bird, and a bird he became; but on becoming a bird he lost his previous characteristics.

"This is nice enough," he said; "during the day I can sit at the office attending to the gravest matters, and at night I can dream that I am flying about like a lark in Frederiksborg gardens. What a capital farce it would make!" Then he flew down on to the grass, twisting and turning his head about among the waving stalks, which, in proportion to his present size, were as tall as the palms of Northern Africa.

It was but for a few minutes; all at once it grew as dark as night around him; a huge object, as it seemed to him, was thrown over him. It was a big cap with which a schoolboy from Nyboder had covered him. A hand crept in and clutched the clerk by the back and wings, so tightly that he piped, and in his terror called out quite loud, "You impudent young puppy, I am a clerk in the police service!" but to the boy it only sounded like peep-peep, and he hit him on the beak and walked off with him.

In the Avenue he met two schoolboys of the upper classes—in rank at least; in learning they were amongst the lowest in the school. They bought the bird for a few pence, and in this way the clerk got back to Copenhagen, where he was taken to a house in Goth Street.

"It's well that I'm only dreaming," said the clerk, "or I should be in a fine rage! First I was a poet, now I am a lark! It was my poetical temperament which made me change into a bird; but it's a miserable business when one falls into the hands of boys. I should like to know what the end of it will be."

The boys took him into a very elegantly furnished room, where a stout, merry lady received them, but she was by no means pleased at their bringing in a common little field-bird, as she called the lark. She would let them keep it for to-day, she said, and they might put it in the empty cage near the window; "perhaps it would please Polly-parrot!" added she, laughing at a big green parrot which was swinging backwards and forwards in a stately manner in its gorgeous brass cage. "It is Polly's birthday," she added, with affected gaiety, "so the little field-bird must come and congratulate!"

Polly did not answer a word, but went on swinging. A pretty little canary in the next cage, which had been brought from its own warm fatherland, began singing loudly.

"Be quiet, screamer!" said the lady, throwing a handkerchief over the cage.

"Peep-peep!" it sighed; "what a fearful snow-storm."

The clerk, or, as the lady called him, the field-bird, was put into a little cage close to the canary and not far from the parrot. The only words the parrot could chatter, and which often came in oddly enough, were, "Now, let us be men!" All its other utterances were just as incomprehensible as the twittering of the canary, except to the clerk, who, being a bird himself, understood his companions perfectly.

"I used to fly about under green palms and flowering almonds," sang the canary. "I used to fly with my brothers and sisters among gorgeous flowers and over the glassy lake, where the plants at the bottom nodded to us. There were lots of bright parrots, who used to tell us the funniest stories in the world."

"They were wild birds," answered the parrot; "they had no education. Now let us be men!"

"Do you remember the pretty girls dancing in the great outspread tent under the flowering trees? Do you remember the luscious fruits and the cooling juice of the wild grapes?"

"Oh yes!" said the parrot; "but I'm far better off here; I have good food, and I am treated with great consideration. I know how clever I am, and I desire nothing more. Now let us be men! You have a poet's soul, as they call it; I have sound accomplishments and wit. You have genius, but no discretion; you give yourself away by bursting out into those piercing notes of yours, and then they smother you. They never presume to cover me up, for I cost them so much; then I impress them with my beak, and confound them all with my wit! wit! wit! Now let us be men!"

"Oh, my beloved, flowery fatherland!" sang the canary. "I will pipe of your dark green trees, of your little bays, where the drooping branches kiss the waters. I will ever sing of the rejoicing of my brilliant brothers and sisters hovering over the cactus plants, Wells of the desert,' as they are called!"

"Oh, stop that lackadaisical strain!" said the parrot. "Say something that one can laugh at. Laughter is a sign of the highest mental cultivation. Can a dog or a horse laugh? No, they can cry, but laughter is only given to mankind. Ho ho! ho!" laughed the parrot, adding its usual phrase, "Now let us be men!"

"You little grey Danish bird," said the canary, "they have made a captive of you too! It must be cold in your woods, but still there is freedom in them. Fly away! they have forgotten to fasten your cage, and the window is open at the top. Fly! fly!" The clerk immediately hopped out of his cage. Just at that moment the half-open door to the next room creaked, and the cat crept stealthily in with green shining eyes, and gave chase.

The canary fluttered in its cage: the parrot flapped its wings and shouted, "Let us be men!" The clerk was terribly frightened, and flew off through the window, over the house-tops and over the streets; at last he was obliged to take a little rest.

There was something familiar about the opposite house; there was an open window and he flew in, it was his own room, and he perched upon the table.

"Let us be men!" he said, without thinking of what he was saying, only repeating the parrot's phrase mechanically; at the same moment he became the clerk again, there he was sitting on the table.

"Good heavens!" said he, "however did I get here sleeping on the table, and very disturbed dreams I've been having too Stupid nonsense the whole story!"


The Last Best Gift of the Goloshes

Next day in the early morning, while the clerk was still in bed, someone knocked at the door. It was his neighbour, the Divinity Student, who lived on the same floor, and now walked in.

"Lend me your goloshes," he said, "it's so wet in the garden, but the sun is shining, and I want to smoke a pipe."

He put on the goloshes and went down into the garden, which possessed one apple and one pear tree. Even that was a great treasure in the heart of the town.

The student walked up and down the path, it was only six o'clock; a post horn sounded in the street.

"Oh, to travel, to travel! surely it is the most delightful thing in the world. It is the great desire of my heart! If I could travel, this restlessness which comes over me would be quieted. But it must be far away! I should like to see beautiful Switzerland, travel in Italy, and——"

It was a good thing that the goloshes began to have an effect at once, or he would have travelled about too much either for himself or for us. Well, he travelled. He was in the heart of Switzerland, but packed into a diligence with eight other people. He had a headache and a crick in his neck, his legs were swollen from sitting so long, and his boots pinched him. He was half asleep and half awake. He had a letter of credit in his right hand pocket, and his passport in the left, and a little leather purse with some Louis-d'Ors sewn up in it in his breast-pocket. Every time he dropped off, he dreamt that one or other of these was lost, and he started up in feverish haste; the first movement of his hand was a triangle from right to left, and up to his breast, to feel if they were still there. Umbrellas, sticks and hats swayed about in the net above their heads, and considerably impaired the view, which was grand in the extreme. He stole glances at it while his heart sang jubilantly, words which we know at least one other poet has sung, but which have not up to the present time been printed.

The landscape was stupendous, dark and solemn. The pinewoods looked like mere heather on the high mountains, whose summits were lost in wreaths of mist. Soon it began to snow, and a piercing wind sprang up.

"Oh!" he shuddered, "if only we were on the other side of the Alps, it would be summer, and I should have got some money on my letter of credit, the fear of losing it spoils all my pleasure in Switzerland! Oh! if only I were on the other side."

And there he was on the other side, far in the interior of Italy between Florence and Rome. The lake of Thrasymene lay before him like a flaming sheet of gold, amidst the dark blue mountains. Here, where Hannibal defeated Flaminius, the vines now entwined their graceful tendrils; charming half-naked children guarded a flock of coal-black pigs among a group of scented laurels by the wayside. If we could paint this picture so as to do it justice, everyone who saw it would rejoice over "beautiful Italy!" but neither the student nor any of his companions in the carriage would have said it.

Thousands of poisonous flies and gnats swarmed around them, and in vain they attempted to drive them out with myrtle branches; they bit all the same. Not a man in the carriage but his face was swollen and disfigured from the bites. The poor horses looked like carrion, the flies settled in masses upon them; they only had a moment's relief, when the driver got down and scraped them off. When the sun went down, a sharp wind whistled round, which was anything but pleasant, but a beautiful green light rested on mountains and clouds—you must go and see it thoroughly to appreciate it. It was wonderful! The travellers thought so too, only—their stomachs were empty, their limbs weary, and all their thoughts turned towards quarters for the night. But where were these? They looked much more anxiously for an inn than at the beautiful view.

Their road ran through an olive wood, just as at home it might have wound through stunted willows; here lay the solitary inn. Half a score of crippled beggars were encamped outside, the best of whom looked like "Famine's" eldest son, "Snarley-yow," in Captain Marryat's "Dog-fiend." The others were either blind, or had withered feet and crept on their hands, or contracted arms and fingerless hands. It was indeed misery in rags.

"Eccellenza, miserabili," they moaned, stretching out their maimed limbs. The hostess herself had bare feet, uncombed hair, and was clad in a dirty blouse. The doors were tied up with string, the floors consisted of half uprooted cobble stones, bats flew about under the ceiling, and the odour——

"It would be as well if we had the supper served in the stable," said one of the travellers; "there at least one knows what the air is one breathes."

The windows were opened to let in a little fresh air, but quicker than the air, in came the withered arms and the everlasting whines, "Miserabili, Eccellenza." There were many inscriptions on the walls, many of them uncomplimentary to "La bella Italia."

The dinner was brought; it consisted of water soup flavoured with pepper and rancid oil. The same oil figured in the salad; stale eggs and roasted cockscombs were the grandest dishes, even the wine had a disagreeable taste; it was a nauseous mixture.

At night the boxes were piled against the door, and one of the travellers kept watch while the others slept. The student had the first watch. Oh! how close it was! The heat was oppressive, the gnats stung, and the miserabili outside whined in their sleep.

"Travelling would be well enough," sighed the traveller, "if one had no body. If it could rest and the spirit soar alone. Wherever I go there is always something wanting which oppresses the heart, something better than the present, and that I must have. Something better, the best of all, but where, and what is it? I know very well what I want. I want to reach a happy goal, the happiest of all!"

As the words escaped his lips, he found himself back at home; long white curtains hung before the windows, and a coffin stood in the middle of the floor, and he himself lay in it, in the quiet sleep of death. His wish was fulfilled, his body was at rest, and his spirit free. "Call no man happy before he is in his grave," were Solon's words, which here received a fresh confirmation.

Every corpse is an enigma to Immortality, neither could this sphinx before us answer the question which the living man had written down two days before—

"Strong Death, thy very silence wakes our dread,

As to the grave our wandering steps are led.

Shall now my soul up Jacob's ladder pass

Into Death's garden, there but to spring as grass?

Our greatest suffering oft the world sees not.

O Thou! to whom fell sad and lonely lot,

Thou knowst, that heavier are our woes passed by,

Than all the earth that on our graves doth lie."

Two figures were moving about in the room; we know them both. They were Sorrow, and Fortune's handmaid; they bent over the dead man.

"Seest thou now," said Sorrow, "what sort of happiness thy goloshes brought to mankind!"

"They at least brought him who sleeps here, good of a lasting kind," answered Joy.

"Oh, no!" said Sorrow; "he went of his own accord; he was not called away! His spiritual powers were not given strength enough to accomplish the task which had been set him. I will dc; him a true kindness!" saying which she took off the goloshes; the sleep of death was over—the dead man rose to life again with renewed strength.

Sorrow vanished, taking with her the goloshes; she seemed to look upon them as her property.

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